September 23, 2010

3 Quick Lessons from My Failed Project on Kickstarter


(Optional Reading: backstory) I’ve known about Kickstarter – the crowd-funding website for a few months and always thought it’s a cool platform for creative projects to raise some money to get them started. A few months ago there was a Kickstarter Meetup in cities around the US, and I attended the one in LA where I chatted with people who have successfully funded their projects on Kickstarter and the co-founder Yancey Strickler. All the people I talked to are producing films (well it is Los Angeles after all). People who had experience with Kickstarter all had a very positive experience. The platform provided them with a tool to 1. get financial support to finish the projects and 2. to gain some visibility to their projects. Yanchey gave me some good feedback and intro to the platform. So after all these encouraging conversations, I decided to give it a try and submitted my application. (/Optional Reading Ends)


Even though close to $1000 was pledged in 4 weeks of time, I was unable to raise the initial $3456 funding goal. (And on Kickstarter terms, it means the project owner doesn’t get any of the pledged amount and none of the backers were charged.) Here are three things I learned from this experience. If you want to avoid a failed project like mine, read on:


1. Network
Having a large fan base or network connected to your project, your organization, or YOU personally is one of the key to success on Kickstarter. will bring in some traffic and some backers to your project, but don’t count on it to be a major source. Your college friends, work associates, family, fans, readers, audience, followers… are extremely important for your project. They will be your backers, forward your projects on, and tell their friends about your projects. Understand this early and realize the fullest potential of your network.


Studio Pepwuper is in its infancy. And I am a recent corporate convert who’s learning the ropes in a new field. Lesson here: start letting the world know what you are doing early and continue building relationships with people who are interested in you/your organization/your projects.


2. PR
Get your project mentioned in popular forums/blogs/magazines/news sites can bring in traffic and backers. But you need to do your research early and contact them before your project starts, or at least make sure there’s enough time to get PR done within the funding deadline. My project was eventually mentioned on a few popular blogs, but if I can do it over again, I’d start the process of PR much earlier to make sure it’s properly done and the journalists/editors have enough time to write about it.


3. Management
You NEED to actively manage your project on Kickstarter. I started the project right after my application was accepted without considering my own schedule. I already had a 4-week trip (for my own wedding) scheduled in August, but I was too excited to wait until after the trip to start the project . I overestimated my ability to manage the project while traveling and ended up not getting as much done as I had hoped during the funding period. End result? Not having time to continue pushing for the fund-raising. First you need to have an idea how long it would take for you to reach your funding goal. This depends on the size of your network. The smaller it is, the longer a time period you’ll need to reach your funding goal. Second, you need to make sure you can actively manage your campaign during the period you are fund-raising on Kickstarter – continuously reminding people in your network of your project, working with bloggers and journalists to get your story out, updating backers regularly…etc.


Now even if your Kickstarter project fails, that doesn’t mean you don’t gain anything. I managed to finish a prototype of the game project in time and received many valuable feedback from people who’s played it on Kickstarter. It’s also a good exercise in marketing for the project, and I can use the works I produced for this Kickstarter project in my future marketing efforts.


Hope this is helpful for people who are interested in crowd-funding for their creative ideas. I recommend two more articles:

Posted via email from Next Level with Brandon


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